It was certainly the year for women’s watches at SIHH, with some lovely introductions from Jaeger-LeCoultre and a dedicated collection from Vacheron Constantin. In line with celebrating the ladies, Van Cleef & Arpels came out with their own dazzling offering.
In 2006, the brand first introduced the Poetic Complications concept with the Féérie watch. One of the mainstays of the house, the fairy indicates the time with her wand and wings, turning time into a story. These watches are like nothing else in the industry showing incredible artistic creativity in craft and mechanics.
This year Van Cleef & Arpels continues the tradition with the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée. One of the stars of the SIHH 2013 show, the piece utilizes two of the brand’s iconic images, the ballerina and fairy. For this piece they found inspiration in a quote from dancer Anna Pavlova: ‘‘I’ve been dreaming that I was a ballerina, and that I was spending my whole life dancing as lightly as a butterfly…’’
Sculpted in relief and set with diamonds, the ballerina is a true representation in miniature cleverly combining the forms of a dancer and a butterfly as her skirt lifts. Against a guilloche background, the transparent and champlevé enamel layered veils of the tutu reflect light. To add depth, several layers of translucent Grand Feu enamel are then applied.
A button at 8 o’clock engages the double retrograde movement, a signature of the Poetic Complications, bringing the ballerina to life and telling the time on demand. The hours are indicated first with the rise of the veil on the left, followed by the rise of the veil indicating the minutes on the right, after which the veils return to their original down position.
In watchmaking, heritage always factors in a big way. For the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée mechanism, they channeled the Magicien chinois pocket watch from 1927. With a retrograde complication, the magician raises its arms to show the hours and minutes.
The Poetic Complications not only perfectly demonstrate why Van Cleef & Arpels is a dominant force in artistic craftsmanship but also showcase inventive and advanced horology, this time with the flair of a ballerina’s skirt taking a butterfly’s flight.